Bicycle Portraits from South Africa

A man in red with his yellow bicycle in South Africa.

Three volumes of portraits are the final products of a two-year effort led by Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler.

“The great advantage of working on something so long is that you can really immerse yourself and your audience in the total experience of the project,” Engelbrecht said. “And you get a real feel for what you are working on through meeting so many of the people that you are interested in, hearing their stories and sharing their experiences.”

Both Engelbrecht and Grobler are residents of Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa, and are “totally obsessed with bicycles,” said Engelbrecht, who has been photographing and publishing his own books over the years. Grobler has a background in motion-graphics design.

Each Bicycle Portraits book contains photos and descriptions of 54 individuals living in South Africa, chosen out of a pool of 500 portraits that were photographed over the course of the project. Engelbrecht said the next stage will involve visiting each person who appears in the books to personally hand them a copy.

The impetus for the project was to be able to bike around South Africa and meet fascinating people, Engelbrecht said. Add to that was the hope that everyday South Africans would see “that it is in fact possible to use a bicycle.”

“We’re not saying that everyone has to ride a bicycle all the time, of course,” Engelbrecht added. “It’s not practical for everyone; but, we hope to encourage some people to try and commute by bicycle as often as they can. It’s fast, it’s free and it’s fun.”

The books also each contain two essays by local and international cycling figures, such as Gary Fisher – one of the forefathers of mountain biking – and South Africa’s Nobel Prize-winning author, J.M. Coetzee. The books were designed by Gabrielle Guy and feature hand-painted watercolor maps by acclaimed South African artist Gabrielle Raaff.

The two photographers/ authors/ publishers raised over $40,000 from 564 backers for their books using the online fundraising tool, Kickstarter. Said Engelbrecht: “I think the crowd-funding platform is an incredible way forward for creative, independent projects. Of course there are other ways to fund a project like ours, but having everyday individuals invest in your vision and believe in your idea is very rewarding on many levels.”

“We’ll never have to owe the bank money or look at big companies to make our dreams come true – if your concept is good enough, there are a lot of people that will push your dream into existence.”

Bicycle Portraits is available internationally from

Stay tuned, as Engelbrecht has hinted that a fourth Bicycle Portraits book might be in the works.

Originally published in the May/ June 2012 issue of Momentum Magazine and on

Velo-city Global 2012 Interview – Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson

Gregor Robertson

Vancouver Mayor

Q: How might Vancouver benefit from hosting Velo-city Global 2012?

Velo-city is an excellent opportunity to showcase many of Vancouver’s world-leading green initiatives, from our extraordinary 14-mile (22-kilometer) seawall bikeway, to green buildings and neighborhoods. We also want to highlight Vancouver’s focus on being a world center for the green economy.

Q: What topics will you address in your presentation?

I plan to speak about my experience as mayor and the politics, challenges and opportunities of building cycling infrastructure in Vancouver and forward-looking cities around the world. It’s important that cities share best practices as we approach the same challenge of trying to encourage a major shift in cycling and more sustainable transportation choices.

Q: How can city officials encourage cycling?

We need to focus both on building effective infrastructure and on measures to enhance cyclists’ safety. In my first year as mayor, we doubled city funding for cycling infrastructure to improve busy bike routes and we also established three new separated bike lanes in our downtown. These new lanes made riding safer and faster, and attracted many new cyclists. We’ve also expanded our efforts to raise awareness and respect between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to ensure our roads are safer for everyone.

Want More?

Visit our Countdown to Velo-city 2012 blog:

Originally published in the May/ June 2012 issue of Momentum Magazine and on

Velo-city Global 2012 Interview – Technical and Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen Ayfer Baykal

Ayfer Baykal

Technical & environmental Mayor of Copenhagen

Q: What topics will you address in your presentation?

My presentation is about a brand new cycle initiative for 16 municipalities, including Copenhagen and the capital region of Denmark, that involves creating a high-class network of routes for cycle commuters. We call it the Cycle Super Highway Network. The final network will consist of at least 186 miles (300 kilometers) of high-class cycle routes where services for cyclists and modern intelligent traffic solutions are integrated. The first route, which will be a pilot route, will open in the spring of 2012, and the other two routes coming down the pipeline will open in late 2012. I think it will show all kinds of cycle-friendly cities and regions how possible it is to integrate a system like this that links the suburbs to the city center.

Q: What is the path ahead for cycling in North America?

There is an increasing trend towards more urban cycling, and I am sure that you guys will catch up with European cities eventually. It will not be in this decade, but, in many cities in North America, the bike is simply the quickest, healthiest and easiest mode of transport. I believe that politicians and citizens will soon realize that cycling already is playing a vital role in tackling the global problems of congestion, obesity and climate change.

Q: How can city officials encourage cycling?

There is broad consensus among experts about the starting point for creating new cyclists: It must be easy and safe to ride your bike. Bicycle-friendly infrastructure is crucial for making the bicycle a real alternative to the car. But asphalt and stripes are not enough. There is also the bike X-factor that lies in the sensual and bodily aspects and the actual bike experience – when you stop your bike, meet someone you know, feel the sun’s heat on your face or notice how the ride gives you joy and energy. This experience is the bonus that keeps people in the saddle.

Want More?

Visit our Countdown to Velo-city 2012 blog:

Originally published in the May/ June 2012 issue of Momentum Magazine and on

Velo-City Global 2012 Mayoral Interviews

By Sarah Ripplinger

Velo-city Global will run from June 26 to 29, 2012, and Momentum couldn’t be more excited to be in the host city!

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

The biannual conference brings together over 1,000 politicians, engineers, planners, architects, social marketers, academics, researchers, environmentalists and activists from around the globe to discuss the most current city biking issues.

This year’s conference is situated in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia – the first time that the global arm of the conference series will be held in a North American city.

Ayfer Baykal-thumb
Photo courtesy of Ursula Bach

Technical and Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen Ayfer Baykal.

Momentum will be at the conference, sharing insights from speakers and participants, and bringing you a behind-the-scenes look at this premier international cycling planning gathering. Check our Countdown to Velo-city 2012 blog for updates:

Among the speakers at the conference are Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and technical and environmental mayor of Copenhagen Ayfer Baykal, who both kindly answered our questions.

Velo-city Global 2012 Interview – Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson

Velo-city Global 2012 Interview – Technical and Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen Ayfer Baykal

Originally published in the May/ June 2012 issue of Momentum Magazine and on

Bike Style Makeover – Lawyer David Hay

AFTER – David Hay with his suit-ready ride, the Opus Lugano.

On the one hand, Vancouver, BC, resident David Hay is a pretty stylish guy.

BEFORE – A surf-inspired look better suited to Vancouver’s trails than a downtown office.

A litigation lawyer and partner at Richards Buell Sutton LLP with a special interest in bicycle injury – and a member of a rock band – Hay’s style ranges from trendy office professional to casual cool.

While his bold-colored mountain bike and surf-inspired look would blend nicely into the crowd that tackles recreational dirt trails in and around Vancouver, Momentum wanted to find a bike that complements Hay’s office-ready wardrobe.

Our pick: a conservatively-hued Opus Lugano city bike with subtle brown accents on the handlebar grips and saddle. The smooth and slightly arched line of the top tube makes this bike command attention without being flashy. Roller brakes will help Hay stop with confidence in wet and dry conditions, and require minimal adjusting and maintenance.

Internal seven-speed gears and a chain guard will keep Hay’s pant legs grease-free.

The upright riding position won’t stretch out the shoulders of his suit jackets and the rear rack is perfect for attaching panniers in which he can stow his work materials and anything else he needs to bring with him to the office.

It’s a match made in Hay-Van.

Originally published in the May/ June 2011 issue of Momentum Magazine and on